To read the first piece in this two-part series on understanding the shadow and the ego, as well as the relationship between them, click here.
So, now that we know the ego is not the issue here, we can realise it is the illusion of who we think we are.
When we get so self-absorbed or when we live in a fantasy world in which we believe we are our ego, we will do anything to keep this false appearance alive.
Developing enough ego to believe in ourselves
The key here is whenever we observe ourselves reacting to any event, trigger, person or environment, we must learn to stop, pause and ask ourselves, ‘Why am I reacting this way?’
This is the only way for us to backtrack through our emotions and thoughts, to our memories, which hold our influence, root cause and provenance of emotional programming.
The results will be unearthing emotions that we may have been repressing for years, such as anger, sadness, fear, guilt, shame and grief.
Only when we connect with these repressed emotions can we commence the healing process.
But how can we heal?
By identifying and integrating the wounded parts of ourselves.
- Fear calls for us to be more courageous
- Suffering invites us to be more resilient
- Anger is a calling for us to be more passionate
- Guilt can open the way for being more forgiving
- Shame can point us in the direction of self-love
- Grief can pave the way for acceptance
- Sadness is an opportunity to bring more happiness into our lives and really get into the heart of what makes us happy
Your ego is like a mirror
Clearly, connecting with our ego is necessary.
However, we must understand that our ego does not like to be observed. Consequently, there will be an initial level of resistance. But it is the only way to make the ego conscious.
With this in mind, what we are about to practise is the detachment of the ego to be able to work with it and even dance with it.
First, you have to name your ego as a way of separating yourself from it. This can be as easy as asking your ego, ‘what is your name?’ and listening to the first word that comes to mind.
Once you have your name, it’s time to work with your ego by asking it some very simple questions. The way I like to do that is through journaling.
My first question to my ego would be, ‘what are some of your triggers?’ Then, I would write them all down in my journal.
If you have lots of words, put them in groups so they have a theme or a headline for you to work with.
Now, here comes the fun part. Beside every answer, write down the emotions that the ego experienced with each trigger.
Finally, ask the ego, ‘what was the meaning you gave to each event?’ and write the answers next to each one.
For example, my trigger was my husband taking over my cooking, the emotion I experienced was annoyance and the meaning I gave it was that I am not competent in cooking and not worthy of consideration.
Throughout this entire process, we are observing and working with our ego to give it a different meaning.
The person is not their behaviour
Ultimately, your ego is here to protect you.
Once we can appreciate and accept that our ego wants the best for us, it is easier to put ourselves in its shoes. From there, we can identify what needs are not being met and why our ego is showing up in a certain way.
In doing so, it also helps us become more forgiving and less judgemental with others.
For example, if we go back to my dearest husband, he was just trying to help me. The story that came with it was my baggage, not him.
As Carl Jung said, we marry our own unconscious mind and then we project all of our unresolved baggage on to our partners. It is so much more empowering when we realise this and are able to own up to it.
In the words of Debbie Ford, when you understand projection, you will never see the world the same way again.
In this holographic world, everyone and everything is a mirror, and you are always seeing yourself and talking to yourself. If you choose, you can now look at what emotionally affects you as an alarm, a clue to uncover your shadow, a catalyst for growth that gives you an opportunity to reclaim a hidden aspect of yourself.
In closing, I’ll leave you with a powerful quote for reflection:
Do not judge my story by the chapter you walked in on.